and positions did not always convert to Christian faith when they were made bishops. Some took the posts and kept sacrificing privately to the traditional gods.
Julian sought to revitalise the Greco-Roman religions. He cast his interpretation of the toleration laws brilliantly. Because all religions should have equal opportunities for worship, as the 'Edict of Milan' had made clear, the renewal of traditional Hellenistic religion should have its chance. For the rebirth to proceed, temples would be rebuilt and opened. Yet to be reconstructed, each pagan community had the right to reclaim its site and particularly the expensive columns that had formed its temples. Julian well knew that such rebuilding required the destruction of many Christian edifices because both their sites and much of their building material had been taken from the pagans.22
Julian's assessment of Christianity changed only slightly during his reign and then primarily in relationship to features of Christian communities that he thought his revived religion needed. The Galileans, as he called Christians, failed miserably because they had no sacrifice at the heart of their worship. Talk of Christ assuming that function once for all was ludicrous. Even Judaism continued such offerings and thus was much more like Hellenistic faiths. Julian sent money and hired workers to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem, but what was possibly a gas pocket created a large fire and the project was stopped. HadJulian lived longer he might well have begun again. He was a consequential man.
What intrigued him about Christians was their help for those in trouble: the poor, hungry, sick, disabled. Indeed he was angry that these ritually and theologically deficient groups took care not only oftheir own needy but almost any who were vulnerable. By Julian's estimation, unless his reform could better serve such folks than Christians did, it would die at birth.23 There is no more powerful witness to the strength of Christian social activity in the mid-fourth century than Julian. He stands in the line of Maximinus Daia (d. 313), the imperial usurper, who had tried to stamp out the church in Syria and Egypt. Maximinus, too, had wanted to restore paganism and its priests, perhaps even create a pagan church.24
Julian also mounted what many then and some today would consider a sound argument against having any Christian on the rolls of public school teachers. Surely everyone understood that doing justice to any literature demanded that the values of those writings be accepted and passionately
22 Ammianus Marcellinus, trans. Rolfe, 22.5.2-4.
23 Julian, Letter 22.
24 Eusebius H.E. 8.14.7-9 and 9.9.11-12; P. Keresztes, 'From the Great Persecution to the Peace of Galerius'.
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